Tabehsa teaches me a lesson

I'm such a jerk. I don't entirely regret the comments I made in this post because in large part I still feel everything expressed there. However, The Universe does have a consistent, particularly annoying way of teaching me, shutting me up, and putting life back into perspective. Sometimes these lessons are waiting for me years down the road, in some cases I'm forced to recalibrate immediately. In the case of my cold feet about tutoring Tabesha, The Universe smacked me around the very next day.

I parked my car and walked around the corner toward her house. Before I even saw her daughters playing in the front yard, I heard: "TEACHER! TEACHER IS HERE! MOOOOOMMMMMM! TEACHER!" When I was close enough to the house to see them, I spotted her three-year-old running around in crazy circles, her arms flailing above her head, "TEACHER!" Her other daughter had already run inside to fetch her "MOOOOOOMMM!" Once I was inside I saw that Musa, her husband, was still at the table eating dinner. Tabesha was busy in the kitchen, but poked her head out and told me to sit, sit, sit down at the table.

I struggle to know if it's worse to eat their food and take that much needed resource away from her large family, or if it's worse to insult her by refusing hospitality. Ultimately, knowing what I do of her family and her culture, I opted to respect her hospitality. As I sat down at the table my eye caught Musa tearing mystery meat from the bone with his hands and sopping up the dripping sauce with a huge dinner roll. I don't eat red meat (or shellfish, pork, dark meat of any kind, the list goes on) and my first thought was, "It's only been ten years or so...I'm sure your body will figure out how to digest this mystery animal. You can do this..."

I sat down and was immediately presented with two huge dinner rolls, a large bowl full of cucumber/tomato/olive oil/spices salad, three large pieces of said mystery meat, and, thankfully, utensils. It smelled fantastically spicy and I told myself to "...dig in. Eat it with lots of bread. Enjoy the salad. Don't think about it. Don't be rude." Knowing how expensive this meal was for her family, now was not exactly the time to have a lesson on the quite-privileged-if-you-think-about-it word "vegetarian."

Musa was in a reflective mood and talked a lot about Africa as I gingerly attempted to cut my meat from the bone with an old butter knife. His kids running in the front yard on a busy street caused him to comment: "In Africa, if our neighbors saw danger, they would protect our kids. We all raise kids. Children belong to everyone in the village. Here, in America, my daughter could run into the street and no one would protect her." With my mouth full of red meat and cold dinner roll, I watched his face as he said this and my heart broke.

Fast forward to my salad being gone, one dinner roll and two out of the three pieces of meat consumed, and I thanked them as I got up from the table. Musa pointed to the third piece of meat and said, "Sit, sit, sit. Eat, eat, eat." "Oh, I'm very full," I said as I held my stomach and smiled. "Thank you for sharing. Tabesha is a good cook. That was good. Thank you." I headed to the living room for our lesson. Musa called after me, "If you are ever in our home and you are hungry, you say so. If you are in our home, you are our family. You are our teacher and you live here to. This is your home, teacher, and your food." Tabesha smiled and nodded along to his words. Again, my heart broke.

So I have a busy job. So I have a lot of commitments and events and stuff going on after work. So it takes me a fair amount of time to prepare each lesson for her, twice each week. So what?

To drive this lesson home, The Universe watched us and smiled knowingly as Tabesha and I sat on the couch for 40 minutes after the lesson was over...talking and laughing and teasing each other, having a great time.

Note to Self: Get over yourself.

Monday Madeleine

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